Animation vs. Live-action. Effects of animation movies on today’s film making industry

Animation movies are mostly aimed at kids, but they are also a way in which adults choose to spend their free time. Even if it’s for feeling like a child again, forgetting the everyday stress, or just a way of spending time with the loved ones, we can see that these movies are highly requested and became more and more frequent in today’s movie industry and its economy. Thus, what are the effects of animation movies on today’s film making industry?

Studies show that in 2019 Disney had a record-breaking year, by owning eight out of ten best movies of the year. In August, Disney already had five movies to cross one billion dollars, three out of them being animated, making Disney the first studio to have five $1 billion movies in a year. And, by the end of the year, they still hold the record.

If the three animated movies were in august “The Lion King”, “Aladdin”, and “Toy Story 4”, and the end of the year “Frozen 2” took the 4th place, this movie making $920 million after only three weeks from its release. This movie eventually became the highest-grossing animated movie in history, reaching $1.325 billion at the global box office.

     The year 2019 brought to Disney $10 billion, with more than $4 billion coming from the animated films only.

To see the effects of animated movies on the film making industry, and on people’s preferences regarding these two categories, I conducted a survey trough social media where I asked 40 people (relatives, friends or strangers), with ages between 14 and 45,  two simple questions: “What do you prefer to watch at the cinema: animation or live-action movies and why?” 

16 people chose animation:

  • “Because the story and the quality of the movie can be better, plus the characters are more colorful and they give you a better feeling after you leave the theatre. But of course, it depends on what movies they show on that day.”
  • “They make me calm. It feels like there is no chaos in them. They seem to pull me out of this stress and craziness and keep me in their world for as long the movie lasts.”
  • “Because I really enjoyed all the animation I have seen lately. When it comes to normal movies, well, not so much.”
  • “Because they make me happier. They are more colorful.”
  • “Because they make me feel like a child again.”

Results of my survey on people’s preferences

20 people chose live-action:

  • “They are more serious and there are not many good animations in cinema today.”
  • “Because those are the only ones I like. I do not like animated.”
  • “I feel like if I go to the cinema, I’m going for the live-action ones. I can always watch the animated ones at home.”
  • “Because the story itself seems so much real.”
  • “Everything feels more real. I can interact better with the story because I see that it is real.”

And 4 people were neutral:

  • “It depends on what movies they have because there are really good movies in both categories.”
  • “I just watch whatever is new. I don’t have a favourite category.”
  • “I don’t know. I would not be able to choose between Disenchantment and The Walking Dead.”

Screenshots of Disney’s success

Moreover, people have noticed a positive evolution of animated movies, as the helpless princesses waiting for a savior became writers of their own destiny. One of the earliest examples is the Disney movie Mulan. In 1998 the story reached 304.3 million USD in box office. It was later followed by the movie Brave, which in 2012 reached 540.4 million USD, and Moana, as another great example of women empowerment, with 690.8 million USD in box office.  And we cannot forget the very successful movies, as mentioned above, Frozen 1 and Frozen 2. Yet, as famous as they are, female protagonists remained the minority in the key roles in the animation industry (out of 120 top-grossing animated movies, from 2007 and 2018, less than 17% had female leads).

Also, compared to the live-action industry, major animation companies have many women, representing half of the total number of the top position producers. Another positive effect of the animation industry is that, in the last years, the top 120 animation movies had female producers: an approximate number of 4 out of 10, which is more than double compared with the live-action.

Animation movies have become a huge part of today’s movie industry and the effects are clear, especially from an economic point of view, which directly shows that many people want to watch them, from parents to kids, adults, and many teenagers. Disney has proven that animation movies can overcome scores previously touched by live-action movies and become more famous. The numbers have recently grown for animations, and can now be equally compared to live-action films.

Miruna Scripcă

Miruna Scripcă